As members of the Loudoun County School Board make their way to the board room tonight, they will be greeted by a protest rally organized by members of the Loudoun County chapter of NAACP.
The rally begins at 5 p.m. at the county school administration building, 21000 Education Court in Ashburn. It begins an hour and a half before the board is scheduled to adopt new attendance boundaries for Leesburg area elementary schools.
The attendance lines must be redrawn to reduce overcrowding at Evergreen Mill Elementary. But the board, and many Leesburg residents, are split over whether to reassign just a few hundred students to address that problem or make major changes, and reassign as many as 2,000 students, to reverse what some see as an unfair distribution of students in apartments and town homes near Plaza Street. The current attendance map, adopted in 1997, has students in that neighborhood attending five different schools, and being bussed past two or three closer schools.
An activist group called Educate Don’t Segregate formed in the past two weeks to protest one of the board’s proposals, called Plan 12, that would return those students to schools closer to them but would also leave two schools, Frederick Douglass and Leesburg elementary schools, with majority English language learners and students from poor families. The group has characterized that move as segregation based on race and class.
Phillip Thompson, president of the local NAACP chapter, expects a large crowd at tonight’s rally. The organization is providing buses to transport families from the apartments and townhouses along Plaza Street in Leesburg to the school administration building in Ashburn.
“I want to give people a chance to blow off a little steam before they go inside,” he said today. “People are going to get out of their car a little fired up.”
Members of the Loudoun chapter of NAACP voted last night to formally oppose Plan 12. Thompson said they prefer the board reassign just enough students to bring down enrollment at Evergreen Mill Elementary. He stressed that he is not fundamentally opposed to a school made up of mostly minority students, but he has not heard any assurances from the board that it will provide those schools with more resources, such as bilingual teachers.
“I’m concerned if you do put these kids in these schools and not bring in additional resources then you’re going to fail. This board hasn’t shown that ability.”
He said he has contacted the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to let them know about the rally.